Sandalwood occurs extensively mostly in the Eastern Ghats ranging from Vellore district in the North east of Tamil Nadu to the Nilgiris in the west in the dry deciduous forests of the region. In Tamilnadu only dead and drying sandal trees are extracted and brought to depots for rough cleaning and final cleaning. The final cleaned sandalwood is sold in public auction in three sandalwood depots at Tirupathur, Salem and Sathyamangalam at regular intervals. To purchase sandalwood through auction sales, firm or individual must register their name with the respective District Forest Officers, participate in the sale and offer highest bid.

Sandalwood can also be purchased through retail sale of Forest Department. The retail sale of sandalwood shall be ordered by the following officers to meet the bonafide local demands. (G.O. Ms. No. 1228, Forests and Fisheries dept., dated 6.10.1983)

District Forest Officer Upto 5 kilograms to private individuals.
Conservator of Forests i) Upto 10 kilograms to private individuals. ii) Upto 100 kilograms to temples.
Chief Conservator of Forests i) Upto 50 kilograms to private individuals. ii) Upto 500 kilograms to temples.

The sale rates are fixed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and communicated to all officers once in a year. Based on the rate the sandalwood is sold in retail sale. In G.O.Ms.No.429, Environment and Forests Department, dated 24.10.1997, District Forest Officers have been permitted to sell upto 10 M. Tonnes of sandalwood to temples under the control of HR & CE, enterprises under the control of Tamilnadu Khadi and Village Industries Board, Government enterprises and organisations like IMPCOPS manufacturing medicines under the control of Co-operation Department. Government in their G.O.Ms.No.37, Environment and Forest Department, dated 10.02.1999 have authorized the Forest Department to sell upto 10 M.Tonnes of sandalwood to small users through retail sale.

According to Tamil Nadu Sandalwood Transit Rules 1967, no person shall import sandalwood into or export sandalwood from or move sandalwood within any place in the State unless such sandalwood is accompanied either by a permit referred to in Rule 4 or by a way permit referred to in rule 6 and unless such sandalwood bears the mark of the Government of Origin, as provided in rule 7 of the property mark in respect of such sandalwood which has been duly registered in accordance with rule 7. The Forest Department issues the permits mentioned above in Form I, Form II and Form III after collection of necessary fees.

Extraction from Private Lands & Patta Lands and Property Mark Registration

For extraction of Sandalwood trees from private lands (ie. assigned lands) and registration of a property mark application shall be made to the District Forest Officer concerned furnishing all particulars in Form IV as specified in Tamil Nadu Sandalwood Transit Rules, 1967. The District Forest Officer or his authorized officer shall inspect the trees and with the consent of the owner of the land affix the departmental hammer mark on each tree and issue written permission for the extraction of the trees and grant a certificate of registration of property mark in Form V for the transport of the trees by the owner to a central place for final cleaning. The pattadars will be permitted to dispose off the wood or to transport it to any other place from the Central place wherein it has been stored after obtaining specific orders of the Government.

In order to simplify the procedure and to encourage the private owners to grow more sandalwood trees in their patta lands the Government have framed “The Tamil Nadu Sandalwood Trees on patta lands Rules, 2008” effective 27th November 2008. As per these rules sandalwood trees grown on any patta land will be property of pattadar. However the owner of sandalwood trees has to sell his trees to Government only. For this purpose he shall apply to District Forest Officer in Form-I appended to these Rules with list of trees and necessary documents.

The District Forest Officer after due inspections and verification shall grant permission to sell those trees to Government. Forest Ranger Officer concerned will extract those trees and transport them to Final Cleaning Depot. Extraction and recording of measurement of trees will be done in the presence of the owner. After final cleaning is over the District Forest Officer will arrive at the total quantity of final cleaned wood and sapwood obtained from those extracted trees and calculate their value (sale price) based upon the average sale price of previous sale. Twenty percent of this sale price shall be deducted towards extraction, transport, final cleaning and administrative charges and balance 80% will be paid to the owner.

In case the owner of the sandalwood trees is aggrieved by the fixation of sale price by the District Forest Officer he may prefer an Appeal to Conservator of Forests concerned within 30 days from the date of receipt of orders of District Forest Officer in this regard. The Conservator of Forests shall give the appellant an opportunity of being heard and pass orders on the appeal which shall be final.

Regulation on Possession of Sandalwood by Public

The possession of sandalwood in Tamil Nadu is regulated under Tamil Nadu Sandalwood Possession Rules, 1970. As per Rule 3(1) of these rules no person shall possess or stock sandalwood in excess of five kilograms without a licence issued by District Forest Officer. If any person intends to possess or store sandalwood in excess of 5 kilograms he shall apply to the District Forest Officer in Form I and obtain a licence after paying the fees prescribed in sub rule (7) of rule 4.